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20 Jan 2004 00:00
For the second Test in a row, the West Indies stood firm against overwhelming odds and the South African attack Monday to ensure the fourth and final Test at Centurion would enter a fifth day.
At stumps on a rain shortened fourth day, the Windies had moved to 263 for three and slashed the deficit to just 40 runs.
Perhaps most worryingly for South Africa, concerns that were raised prior to the series about the penetration of their attack will once again be raised.
On a day where everything suggested the homeside strolling to their third win of the four match series, the Windies lost just one wicket and, in the form of Ramnaresh Sarwan and Chris Gayle, took the fight to the hosts.
Having lost Brian Lara on Sunday evening and batting in overcast, moist conditions that favoured the South Africans completely, it looked unlikely the Windies would last until tea.
Instead of battling, Gayle and Sarwan positively thrived, both moving to entertaining centuries.
Gayle will resume on Tuesday on 106 with Sarwan on 107.
Sarwan, however, is a touch fortunate still to be at the crease. Having made 20, Sarwan glanced Makhaya Ntini fine but Mark Boucher was unable to hang onto a difficult chance.
While Sarwan was the more circumspect, Gayle was at his swashbuckling best.
He smashed a full toss from Graeme Smith through midwicket to bring up his second century in as many Tests from 136 balls.
Much of the blame for South Africa’s inability to bowl out the Windies on the last day at Newlands was directed at wrist spinner Paul Adams.
As a consequence, Adams was dropped for the Centurion Test.
He was hardly missed as the pacemen, Ntini and Andre Nel in particular, ripped through the Windies in the first innings.
Neither had much luck in the second innings though and both proved rather expensive.
The only wicket to fall was that of Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
Having put on 67 for the third wicket with Ramnaresh Sarwan, he steered Jacques Kallis straight to Herschelle Gibbs at point.
Earlier, only half an hour of play was possible in the morning session following persistent rain.
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